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Subject: Notes from the audiobook world.
From: David H. Straayer (mail_at_dhstraayer.com)
Date: 2004-03-20


First: Congratulations on a magnificent team effort! Without
what you have done, the Archos would not be a good choice for
audiobook users. The “resume” and the “bookmark” features make
a world of difference.

Second: Some of you folks may be interested in the R6WG11
committee on spoken audio that has been working for some time on
standards for audiobooks. It is a joint effort of APA (Audio
Publishers Association) and CEA (Consumer Electronics
Association), and has published at least one standard already,
for audio books on CD/MP3 media. The contact point for R6WG11
is kparks_at_ce.org. I know that most of the people involved in
Rockbox development are more oriented to music listening than
audiobook reading, but the discussions at R6WG11 may prove to be
a useful source of ideas.

Third: R6WG11 has been working with loosely with the DAISY
organization. George Kerscher kerscher_at_montana.com has been
involved in the DAISY work and he would be very interested in
the voice interface. George is blind, and the DAISY standard is
specifically intended for providing material for blind folks. I
’m sure he would be delighted to know that you have produced
software to turn the Archos into such a blind-friendly device
that can be had for such a low cost.

Fourth: Here are a couple of tips that could make the Rockbox
system even more audiobook-friendly. First, when the “left”
button is tapped during play, I suggest that instead of jumping
to the beginning of the file on the first tap, as it does now,
just jump pack a user-configurable number of seconds back (this
could even be hard set at some value between 15 and 45 seconds,
but a user-settable amount avoids the gripes from folk who
prefer a different value). Then if a second tap comes along
soon (within a 1 or two second window, perhaps) it would then
jump to the beginning of the file, and subsequent taps would go
back files. This would make it easy to back up and “re-read” a
section. Another nice idea would be to have a user-settable
"re-read" value (it might even be the same parameter used
above), and always do a resume or a bookmark that many seconds
before the point at which reading was stopped. A little overlap
helps a user to remember the context. I’d love to always have
my Rockbox resume by re-playing the last 15 to 30 seconds of
material. That would lessen the loss due to the otherwise nice
fade-out and fade-in.

Fifth: We might want to let the manufacturing community in
Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China know about the availability
of Rockbox. There are a lot of electronic assembly houses there
who are great at putting together consumer electronics
equipment, but not so great at developing the necessary
firmware. If they knew that they could make up “Archos clones”,
bundle open-systems free Rockbox firmware on them, and sell
them, we might get some other great sources of inexpensive
players. They might even be willing to cough up prototypes to
send to the Rockbox development team to ensure that Rockbox
firmware is available for their designs. :-) I know, because
I've done a lot of traveling in Asia and working with
electronics manufacturers there. I could probably dredge up
some contact information if the Rockbox development team thinks
such "feelers" might be a good idea.

Sixth: Would it be possible to allow recording at fixed bitrate
instead of VBR? I have a hunch that it may be just a different
setting for the hardware that is there already. The
post-processing software I use for massaging the MP3 files I dub
from audiocassettes and LPs (MP3DirectCut) doesn’t really “like”
the VBR files, so I have to spend a lot of computer time
converting the files from VBR to FBR first.

Dave Straayer
Audiobook enthusiast and
now happy Rockbox user.
916.729.4954
mail_at_dhstraayer.com

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